The cultural comparisons by which
One cultural problem is Muslim theocracy, a fundamental element in Islam. The Quran's authority over all of society has been a barrier to political and social progress. Even after Islam had become a great empire in the days of the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman caliphates, it still functioned in the fashion of the monarchies of antiquity, which is to say that government was effectively the household of the caliph, subject to the norms of the Quran.
Christianity was different. It had separation of church and state, following the New Testament injunction that the things of Caesar belonged to Caesar, and the things of God to God, which was to say that the civil power had its place and rights in civilization, as did religion.
This was demonstrated in the year
The other great Muslim obstacle to modern government has been language. Eighth century classical Arabic is the language of the Quran and the foundation of education in the Muslim world. There is no universal modern vernacular form of Arabic that can be used in education throughout Arabic civilization. People in every country speak popular dialects of Arabic, which more often than not are unintelligible to fellow Muslims in other countries.
In the seventh century, following the life and prophecies of Muhammad (570-632), his teachings were consolidated in the Quran in the Arabic of the time, now considered the sacred version of the language. Arabic then and since has been used by hundreds of millions of people in various forms and dialects, but the language of the Quran -- accessible to few other than scholars -- has remained untouched as the language of religion and the foundation of education. Religious education is based upon learning by rote and praying in classical Arabic, which people do not themselves generally use.
A comparison might be made with the Catholic Mass, universally celebrated in Latin from the earliest times until the second
In the case of Arabic, Youssi writes, it accompanied the spread of Islamic religion during the period of the great Arab conquests in North and sub-Saharan Africa,
While Arab civilization expanded, Arabic itself remained confined to elites, scholars and religious use. Among scholars, it could to an extent serve as a scientific and literary lingua franca, but was of little use in dealing with the evolution of Western civilization, and was a barrier to scientific and cultural development. It did not become a printed language until Napoleon's invasion of
A century later, imperialism, nationalism and anti-colonialism imposed a search by the Arab people for Arab unity, a search only being fulfilled now. But Arabic civilization remains isolated, behind walls of language.
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